|New State Budget Invests in Community Protection
The new state budget, which took effect July 1, directs critical investments to support community protection efforts.
It includes funding to train three new state police cadet classes, which will add another 285 troopers to the statewide complement. In a win for rural areas, the budget also prevented a $25 per capita fee from being charged to local communities to pay for state police protection.
The budget also gives a boost to ambulance companies, which would see a needed increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates for an additional $4 million in state funds and nearly $8 million in federal matching funds, beginning Jan. 1.
Specifically, reimbursements for Advanced Life Support (ALS) services will be increased from $200 to not less than $300, and Basic Life Support (BLS) services will be increased from $120 to $180. Current rates are more than 200 percent below reimbursements provided by Medicare and commercial insurance. Reimbursements will also be raised for air ambulance services.
New Law to Maximize Law Enforcement Resources
A new law taking effect early this fall will help enhance the safety of police officers and the public.
Act 57 of 2018 (formerly House Bill 1738) expands the types of officers who can act outside their jurisdictional boundaries in certain urgent situations. This will help facilitate more cooperation among different types of police departments and agencies, ultimately improving public safety for everyone.
Under previous law, municipal police officers have been authorized to act beyond their jurisdictional boundaries under the following conditions: where an officer is in hot pursuit of a traffic violator or criminal suspect, when requested to lend assistance to another department, when executing a court order or if an officer witnesses a crime being committed while in another jurisdiction on official business. However, the law only applies to those police officers employed by a municipality.
As part of the new law, the types of officers authorized to operate outside their jurisdiction would be expanded to include non-municipal officers who must receive training and be certified under Act 120, the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Act. This may include officers serving with airport authority, college and university or certain other police departments, as well as agents in the Office of Attorney General.
Local Law Enforcement to Participate in Aggressive Driving Enforcement Initiative
The Pennsylvania State Police and over 235 municipal agencies will conduct the third targeted aggressive driving enforcement wave from Monday, July 9, to Sunday, Aug. 26.
The Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project, aims to reduce the number of aggressive driving related crashes, injuries and deaths on roadways throughout the state. Any aggressive driver stopped by police will receive a ticket.
Participating municipal departments in the area include Bloomsburg, Hemlock Township, Locust Township, Scott Township and South Centre Township in Columbia County; Tiadaghton Valley Regional, Old Lycoming Township and Williamsport in Lycoming County; Coal Township, Mount Carmel Township and Sunbury in Northumberland County; and Shamokin Dam in Snyder County.
The enforcement wave will focus on red light running, the Steer Clear law, tailgating and speeding.
Motorists exhibiting other unsafe behaviors such as driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, or other aggressive actions will also be cited.
Municipal police agencies that participated in last year’s campaign wrote 41,661 citations, including 27,017 for speeding, 1,203 for occupant protection violations, 2,493 for red light violations and 137 impaired driving arrests.
The aggressive driving enforcement is a part of the Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project and is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
For more information, visit this PennDot website.
Raising Awareness of ChildLine Reporting System
All schools in the Commonwealth will be required to publicly display a poster containing the statewide toll-free number for reporting suspected child abuse, beginning in the 2018-19 school year. Known as ChildLine, Pennsylvania’s statewide toll-free hotline number to report suspected child abuse is 1-800-932-0313.
Posting this critical information in schools will let students know they have somewhere to turn if they need to report abuse or neglect that they’ve suffered or if they suspect another child is being abused or neglected.
The poster is required to be displayed in a high-traffic, public area widely used by students. The poster also would include the address of the Department of Human Services’ website that provides information and resources related to child protection.
Sex Offenders Now Prohibited from ARD
Individuals charged with sex offenses against children will be prohibited from being placed into the state’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD) under a new law signed last week.
The ARD program is designed to give a first-time offender a second chance by avoiding the consequences of being convicted of a crime. Under the ARD program, if a defendant successfully completes a period of supervision and follows the requirements imposed by the court, the case is dismissed.
Though most Pennsylvania prosecutors judiciously reserve ARD for those who are truly deserving, the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure currently have allowed prosecutors complete discretion to recommend any defendant for placement into the program regardless of the crime.
Act 50 of 2018, formerly House Bill 594, will help ensure that predators who sexually assault children will never avoid prosecution.
Honoring Our Veterans with Special License Plates
With the warmer weather and longer days bringing increased travel, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) suggests an Honoring Our Veterans license plate for your vehicle as a great way to show patriotism and support veterans in need.
Available for passenger cars, motorcycles and light duty trucks up to 14,000 pounds, the specialty plate costs $35, with $15 dollars benefitting Pennsylvania’s Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF). The VTF issues grants to statewide charitable organizations that aid veterans service organizations and county directors of veteran’s affairs. These valuable advocates use available grants to assist veterans in need of shelter and necessities of living, among other services.
In addition to the sales of these license plates, there are a number of other programs designed to help fund the VTF in support of Pennsylvania veterans. To learn more about other VTF programs or to purchase an Honoring Our Veterans license plate, visit vtf.pa.gov or follow DMVA on Facebook.com.
Road Maintenance Info Available Online
To make your travels easier, the weekly road maintenance schedule is available at the PennDOT Regional Office website here. For statewide information, visit 511pa.com.